Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Easter eggs

I hope you all enjoyed your Easter weekend.  We stayed at home but really enjoyed having an extra couple of days.  I made some Easter decorations, based on an idea I saw on Sew for Soul Blog, although I used tissue paper painted with acrylic as my base layer.
It was a little fiddly to cut the images out of the paper napkins, but I am pleased with the way they turned out.  I also decorated some others with pastel dots and tissue paper stars, but they aren't quite finished yet. The lilac in the top picture had to be cut from the tree as it was a wayward branch which threatened to hit us every time we went near it, but it is scenting the room nicely and adds a bit more Spring to the Easter decorations.
Here's the real thing, looking beautiful against the blue sky we had over the weekend.,
Lilac is not the most beautiful of trees for most of the year, but then it really does earn its place for three glorious weeks in Spring.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Tulipmania strikes again!

I may have been a rather late convert to the joys of growing tulips, but I am growing more each year and loving them.  I have got a couple of mixes and a couple of named varieties and the pleasure they are giving me as they unfurl a little more every day, is immense.  I have put one small tub of Single Early and Triumph mix outside the front door and above is one of the lovely flowers at the moment.
 The way the green flows into the pink is beautiful.
 There are quite a few fiery colours too (all jumbled together in the same pot, which shouldn't really work, but I think it does).
 How fabulous is this mix of red and yellow?  It almost doesn't look real.
 In tubs in the back garden, I have more mixes, featuring this beautiful pinky-red.
 Then, of course, there are my favourites, Ballerina, dried and saved from last year. I love the way the sun shines through the petals making the colour sing out.
Orange is not one of my favourite colours, but in tulips, I think it is wonderful.
The tulips enjoy the sun as much as we do and the fragrance from Ballerina is delicious when the flowers open.  I am sure there will be more tulip photos when some of the others which I planted this year are flowering.  A bright and beautiful splash of colour to celebrate Spring and Easter.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Skirt sew-along - progress of a sort...

 Hmm, yes, well, not that much progress to report so far on my skirt.  However, I have finally received the pattern, so have tried to make a start.
I have been having a few challenges.  One is that the pattern is printed on the flimsiest of flimsy tissue paper which seems to tear if it is even looked at.  No problem, I thought, I'll just trace off the size I need onto greaseproof paper which will last much longer and be fine for a few skirts.  This created the next challenge.  What size would I need?  Now, the reason I am attempting to make a skirt is because I cannot find a skirt that fits without some alteration around the waist.  Without going into too many details, I have a small waist compared to my hips and am a 'pear' shape.  So, I decided that if I made it to fit my hips, I can increase the darts to fit my waist. (Are you still with me or have I sent you to sleep?!)  However, I am not exactly sure how true to size the pattern actually sews up.  What all this means is that I am going to plump for a larger size to fit my hips and as I am making this in calico first, as a practise run,  I can adjust it for the denim version (if I ever get to that point!) Well, that's the theory.  So, I am going to adjust the greaseproof pattern now and then hopefully I should be at the cutting out stage (Fingers crossed!).  I do seem to be making the seemingly simplest of projects into a major undertaking...

Thursday, 10 April 2014

A little Spring Garden Round up

 The title made me smile - an image of me dressed as a cowgirl in stetson and with a lasso sprang into mind!  Really, this post is an excuse to look at some of the plants flowering in my little garden at the moment.  First is Magnolia Stellata with its intricate centre and star like flowers.
 The outside of the flowers have the subtlest delicate pink shading.
 Cheerful pale yellows courtesy of primroses and primrose/cowslip cross.
 Beautiful pea-like flowers of lathyrus vernus ( I finally got round to planting these into larger pots and they have rewarded me by flowering really well).
 The stately flowers of Magnolia Susan.
 Last year's Ballerina tulips - a lot earlier than the new ones I planted last autumn and giving a burst of fiery orange.
 Here they all are (apologies for the less than beautiful bubble wrap around the pots - a necessary evil).
 Just because there's blue sky... a view up through the Magnolia...
...and a last look at the lovely flowers which have a delicate lemony scent in the sun.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Sew-along and Spring flower material

I found Lazy Daisy Jones' lovely blog, where, most fortuitously, a sew-along is taking place to make a simple A line skirt.  Now, I have been saying for ages how I would love to be able to make a skirt which fits me (as I don't have much luck in buying clothes that fit me, then I have to alter them and don't necessarily know what I am doing). I even bought some denim as a positive start to making my own skirt and then I stopped.  I haven't attempted making clothes before (well, I did make some simple elasticated waist skirts many years ago). So, it could be said that the sew-along is perfect timing.
 My progress has been somewhat slow so far though.  I have got the denim and also some calico (as I am going to make it in calico first to try to get the hang of darts and zips).  I do need to wash the material, so that's a job for tomorrow.  I have ordered the pattern (McCalls 3341) and it has been dispatched, but sadly has yet to appear (boo!).  I have also looked at the first sew-along tutorial which has been posted.  I hope to have actually received my pattern by next week.
However, when buying zips at our local market stall, I happened to call in at the material stall and fell head over heels for this material! I don't know what it is called, but I do know that it came from Holland.
 Spring, happiness, flowers, colour - how could I not love it? Unfortunately, I could only afford half a metre at the time, but at least I have got it.  I would love to use it for decoration - perhaps a pocket on a skirt?

In the meantime, I decided to use it to add some oomph to my Spring Bunting which I made last year but had not been really happy with some of the fabric choices. Much better now!
This afternoon, I tried to make similar coloured flowers in polymer clay, to make into a necklace.  I was pleased with how they turned out, even though I didn't have cutters exactly the same shape.
Hopefully next week, I'll be able to say that I have cut the pieces of my skirt out and taken a deep breath before starting to construct!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Scruffy's April Fool joke

 You may remember Scruffy, one of our cats - seen above, trying to squeeze into a box.  He is full of mischief and outdid himself yesterday morning playing a very good joke on me.  I decided to post about it today as it would have been a perfect April Fool.  Imagine the scene...I had got up and was just about to go to the bathroom when something caught my eye.  There on the floor was a dead creature - a mouse, or a shrew.  I peered at it in the dim light.  I wasn't sure I wanted to touch it, but knew I couldn't leave it there, so scooped it into the dustpan.
 On looking more closely in the light, I realised it wasn't a real animal, it was a toy!  (I know this might seem obvious because you can see the tag in the photos and the flash has brightened it up too.)
In my defence, I was still slightly drowsy and it was in a dim light.  However, now I'm wondering where on earth did he get it from?  Has some poor cat in the neighbourhood lost his precious favourite toy?  It has cat nip in it I think, because he was playing with it yesterday and could find it no matter where I put it.  It still makes me jump when I see it unexpectedly!  Good joke, Scruffy!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Stitching Sundays 30

Stitching Sundays 30 - how did that happen?  Over this last 30 weeks, I have achieved far more with embroidery, sewing, patchwork and making than I would have thought possible! The photo collage above shows a variety of projects I have completed, including decorations, bunting, embroidering a felt piece which I started three years ago and trying patchwork for the first time (collage created using picmonkey).  I am sure that without the added excitement of having something to share on a Sunday, I would not have achieved so much.
Having said all that, I have decided that I am not going to continue posting on every Stitching Sunday. This doesn't mean I am going to stop making, sewing, embroidering - far from it (especially as I have discovered a love of split stitch!) - but I shall be sharing my projects on an 'as and when they are progressing' basis.
I would love to attempt to make myself a skirt that actually fits; a simple A line, knee length or a little longer, perhaps in denim, so that is the next challenge I have set myself.  I am a beginner at clothes making so am hoping this won't be a project too far!  I would also like to mend a childhood knitted rabbit toy (Gonga), who needs sorting out and a new pair of felt shorts making, so there is something else I'll be doing too.
It has been great to join in and I hope to have many more projects to share in the future.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Vagaries of the weather, but plants carry on regardless

 In the last week, the weather has been really interesting.  We have had double rainbows - this one is taken from the back garden...
 ..and this one was out of the back window of the car, on the way home up the A1.
 Then there have been the biggest hailstones I have seen in a long time.  While I was taking the photo, they came down quite hard and I could really feel them hitting me!  I put the five pence piece in the shot as a size comparison.
 The sunny days have been loved by the plants - above is blossom from Prunus Kojo-no-mai which is a real star at the moment.
I bought two pots of these bright and cheerful anemone blanda at a well-known DIY store.  I like the way the flowers open fully in the sun and then close up again.
 Here's a progress report on the tulips (Ballerina and Black Parrot) from last year which I dried and re-planted.  They are much further on than the new ones I planted, but at the moment, they seem a bit spindly, although they may fill out a bit yet.
 These little sweet violets are blooming along a communal path at the back of our line of terrace houses.
The pushkinia is doing well and I do like the pale blue veining on the petals.  Even though the weather is unpredictable (this is England, after all!), the plants are heralding Spring.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Stitching Sundays 29

Stitching Sundays 29!  I have made progress this week, taken the plunge and created my first patchwork pieces.  I used patterns from Tilda, also from Helen Philipps' book 'Pretty Patchwork Gifts' where I was inspired to add the cross stitch, lace and buttons.  The lace is some vintage handmade lace which was tucked away in a tin and which Chris gave me to use in sewing projects.
 The back of the hearts is also patchwork.  I discovered an interesting thing about rotary cutters when I was using one for the first time - they are very good at cutting skin, if you happen to look away from what you are doing!  Luckily, it was just a little nick, but it made me pay much more attention, which was a good thing!
 The buttons are ones I have collected, or have been given (in a Christmas cracker swap, in the case of the pink flower above).
 Here are the hearts being modelled by the door handle.
 I'm not quite sure where to display them yet.
 I am really pleased with them though and I got better at making them as I went along.  I may make some more with some of the other material which has featured on my blog.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Spring colours - jewellery and bargains

I decided that I was going to make a piece of jewellery for myself.  I have a huge stash of gemstones to choose from (oops) and initially, wasn't quite sure which I was going to use.  In the end, I decided on larimar, amazonite (one of my favourites for the blue/green shades it has), rainbow moonstone and silver pearls.  (That sounds so indulgent, doesn't it?)  However, as I used gemstone chips and memory wire, it was quite cost effective.  As I have mentioned before, I find threading the chips onto the wire to be quite a meditative process and the best thing is, I have got a lovely piece of jewellery which I'll really enjoy wearing. Although the photo above doesn't show it, the moonstone does have lovely flashes of blue when it is in the light.
 As for the bargains, well, on a recent trip to Horncastle (a place well known for antiques and charity shops), I found this little embroidered tray cloth in a charity shop (50p).  Of course it had to come home with me.  I was bought it and the primroses by our friend who we had gone to see.  I know primroses aren't cowslips, but I thought they went together well and do a sterling job of representing Spring colours!
(I did wash and iron the tray cloth, but it does look a little creased in the photo - ho hum!)

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Stitching Sundays 28

 Not much progress with actual making this week, but I have been planning and looking at my materials to see what would look good together.  I realised that the stash of material which holds all my memories was just too diverse to be used together, unless used with a neutral background and made into a cushion cover, or something like that.  Having realised this, I decide to look at the other material in my stash and see if I could create some pleasing combinations.
 Here are the results of all the playing - just three combinations at the moment, but it's a start.  Above on the left is my favourite puffed sleeved dress material with some other pale blues.
The pink selection features my wedding dress bodice silk on the left, a dress material my sister used to make me a fifties inspired dress when I was about 18 or so and another pink material I bought when I made the rabbits.
The turquoises look a bit washed out, but are quite vibrant in real life.  The fabric at the bottom left is from a bridesmaid dress which belonged to my Mum and the others are ones I bought when I made my seasonal bunting.  So, having decided on these, I now need to decide what I am going to make...I am still leaning towards little patchwork hearts, or squares. I hope to have done some actual construction by next Sunday, all being well.